The most modern definition of the word Nostalgia is 'wistful yearning for the past'. I never yearned for my past but it keeps on sneaking on me. It wants me to tell its stories. Maybe it wants me to make a film out of it. Maybe.
Last night I dreamt the day I was sent to the Tahfiz, a sekolah pondok to some.
Hot and humid wind whizzed through the crevices of the taxi's window and into the sleeves of my new white robe. I smelled of factory-fresh cotton. I looked at my mother and looked back outside. She was not looking at me. She was looking outside too.
I clutched a small Quran tightly in my hands. If I could, I would compress the Quran into a ball of marble and leave it in the taxi. There is a bucket beside me with toiletries my mother bought from Giant. There were all green and labeled MADBA, my initials. This is my new name now, MADBA.
I was surprisingly calm. I was empty. I was emptied. The taxi driver hit a bumper violently and made the windscreen tilt open. The surge of wind blew my fringe and tickled my eyes. The wind was warm and sickly. I quickly closed the windscreen shut. If I had known that that was the last time I'll be able to feel the sensation of sharp threads of hair stinging my face to the rhythm of the wind, I would have left the windscreen open and basks in its playful twinge. But I didn't.
I looked outside. It was raining. It stopped raining. It started drizzling. "Make up your mind!" I looked at my mother again. She was talking to the taxi driver. I looked outside. "Why are you doing this to me?"
Cars and buildings. Motorcycles and shops. Roads and more roads. A left corner. A small road. A big toad. "Jom Afiq, dah sampai." Something fell in my stomach. It was heavy. It made me breathe harder. I took a deep breathe and lifted that thing to oblivion. I sensed a smile. I looked outside and there was an Ustaz looking down on us from the balcony of the Tahfiz building. I didn't smile back and busied myself with my bags and bucket and blanket.
Some older kids in white robes and white turbans rushed out from the white house and carried my bags without any hesitation. They knew I was coming. Everything was planned. My mother proceeded to the Tahfiz's office. I followed her. There is a distant rumbling from outside and as we neared the office, the reverberation revealed itself as a collection of incoherent readings of the Quran by dozens of children.
I waited at the office while the Ustaz talked to my mother.